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Welcome to the El Lobo Division Blog

July 2005

I finally tried the turnout jig from Fast Tracks. WOW! That is one cool tool! I built a gauge separation turnout in a pretty short amount of time (I wasn't watching the clock but it was pretty fast). I'm using it for part of my AP required work and it is just about ready to judge. The turnout turned out so nice and works so well that I'm going to remove the 5 in Timberline that have been driving me nuts and replace them with these. The one that I built required one small adjustment and it was perfect. I should be able to replace the ones that are already there and have it working in short order.

For the money jig is a good deal. I bought the whole kit from them and it is really worth it. The kit ran $140 but you can build a #6 HOn3 turnout with less than one length of rail. By the bundle a length of rail comes out to about $1. If you buy the PC board ties from him as well (some come in the kit) you can have enough to build 10 turnouts for $11 so, again, about $1 per turnout. I don't know the cost of a bag of ties but let's say $0.50 for ties (which is way high) that makes about $2.50 a turnout. Now, I work pretty fast and I was building them in about 35 to 40 minutes before the jig and I would think that with the jig and some practice I should be able to build a couple of turnouts an hour. Since I'm going to need about 50 of these we are looking at $125 worth of rail and materials plus the $140 for the jig for a total of $265. A Shinohara #6 at the train shop runs about $12.50 each. It will save you some time but its $625 worth of turnouts for the layout. Besides…I like the hand laid look better.

I'm also giving some serious thought to the location of the staging yard and whether or not to have a yard at El Lobo or just another town. The more I think about it the more I like the idea of just another town. That would give us more operating space and a train would only come in and terminate at El Lobo anyway or go on to staging. The Bitter Creek branch will go away and the town will just become the next town up the line. This eliminates 2 turntables and engine servicing facilities as well. The track plan will have to be modified to remove the yard but that's not a problem. Once the AP work is done I'll work on making the modifications.

I wired the separation turnout last night. Electrically it's fine. Mechanically there is a problem. It was about 12:15 and I had to go to work today so I decided to let it sit and I went to bed. Most of my locomotives are running so badly that it's hard to tell where the problem is. I'm sure it's both my work and the loco's but at this point it's hard to tell. I'll play with it and see. I'm hoping that it's something simple. Knowing my luck…it won't be.

OK...sometimes you just get lucky.  Turns out it was a simple fix and the turnout is working great.  All it took was a little gauge fix in one spot.  That and cleaning up a locomotive so it will actually run.  Truth be told...it works so well that I've decided to replace the 5 that I had built a couple of years ago.  They just were proving to be too bad in places and you'd fix one problem only to create another.  I have built the turnouts and have already pulled up 2 of them.  Once they have their rails connected again and the turnout motors working properly I'll replace the others one at a time.  I'm SO happy with the way these look and operate.  I can't say enough how happy I am with that jig.  It's the best tool I've found for our hobby in a long, LONG time.

More later???  The month isn't over yet.

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